The Story of L.A. Noire and 7 Years of Development Hell

Team Bondi

We’ve written quite a few articles about L.A. Noire here in the last few months, but I thought there was still a bit more conversation to be had around this excellent game. While there are plenty of games that undergo long and complex development cycles, the crime-thriller mystery from Team Bondi had a slightly longer and more difficult path than most: 7 years, two different publishers and over one hundred employees that left.

Crazy, huh? The full story is presented in an excellent piece by IGN, where they interviewed both studio head Brendan McNamara as well as the “Bondi Eleven”, a group of former Team Bondi developers who came forward to tell the story of the company’s inception, its turbulent times on L.A. Noire and just why the process spun out of control for them. It’s a bit disconcerting to read things like this, because it seems to be the norm of the video game industry these days. Long hours, blatant disregard for employees’ welfare and generally terrible morale. Definitely a sobering piece for anybody considering jumping feet-first into the games industry.

So what do you guys think about this? I know a lot of you are aspiring game developers. Does this give you pause? Have any of you been in working conditions like this?

Source – IGN

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

4 thoughts on “The Story of L.A. Noire and 7 Years of Development Hell”

  1. That’s really sad. If it’s true then justice MUST be done! Each person’s experience seemed to be worse than the prior interviewee’s and each of those were TOUGH acts to follow. My uncle told me horror stories for working on some of his games and that’s long since put me off games development. Some of the guys he works with sound eerily similar to McNamarra. Dead Space Extraction especially so.

  2. I’m actually very glad this issue has come to the fore recently. I work in the games industry and I will say it can be tough its not as magical as its made out to be but there again it can be very good as well, Like every job there are ups and downs. I personally love it and wouldn’t want to work anywhere else but I understand what comes with the job.

    I’m glad Team Bondi got their game out, Would have been a shame to let such a good game go to waste and I can’t wait to give it a go when I get some time.

  3. Read the article and I gotta say, stuff like this does concern me a bit. I can only hope that once I am in the industry I am not apart of one of these terribly unfortunate situations.

  4. These are the kind of stories that diminished my fledgling desire to become a developer back in college. Unsettlingly, some of the comments from McNamara are almost identical to things I’ve heard my company’s founder say. My personal experience is that extended crunch time only results in extended project thrash. Of late, I’ve seen an 18 month project hit that extended crunch mode stride for the last four months plus, and the amount of rework that has resulted is staggering. Developers (and employers in general) take note: your employees are in fact human, and by and large need regular time to rest, refocus, and deal with other priorities. Believe it or not, you will actually benefit from this.

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